Much like excellence in ice dancing, excellence in cinema is a subjective thing. The Academy Awards can only be a consensus on what is produced in a given year, but considering how difficult it can be to get even two people to agree on any film, it’s no wonder differences of opinion can and do crop up where gold is concerned, on everything from categories — which I have plenty of thoughts about, but that’s another post* — to particular nominees, or more to the point, NON-nominees. Herewith I present an unlucky 7 of this year’s most glaring Oscar omissions, in no particular order. Warning: There might be spoilers in here, depending on exactly what you consider a spoiler. Check them all out after the jump.
This clip is a microcosm of everything I love about this film. Watch Gal Gadot when she sniffs the flower on the hat…Diana has never seen a fake!**
Wonder Woman — MULTIPLE categories
I liked this so much I endured a multiplex twice to see it, but my feeling was not shared by The Academy, which had no love for the best mainstream flick of 2017. I thought even if it didn’t get the nod in Best Picture, Best Actress, or Best Director, maybe it would get one in Costume Design, Production Design, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing…? The film is action-packed but never mindless; it has a patriarchy-shattering basis that was even more relevant when Oscar voting began than when it was released. Plus if there was an Oscar category for Best Ensemble (like the Golden Globes) or Best Chemistry, this would have been it right there.
But nope. After all, despite all the deep themes and whatnot, it’s still “just” a comic book movie, released back in the summer. It obviously benefitted from the magic of Patty Jenkins and Gadot, because Justice League pretty much stank. It will be interesting to see what, if any, awards attention Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther garners in 2019.
Best Foreign-Language Film — Hailing from Norway, Thelma is a film about a young woman dealing with both her emerging sexuality and strange occurrences that may be due to illness, supernatural abilities, or both. Its message of acceptance and freedom got completely LOST in the shuffle, possibly because it wasn’t easily placed into any genre, possibly because it was too feminist. See it if ever you can, it’s brilliant and I love it. Thelma was often mentioned with BPM as fellow snub-ees in the Foreign Language category, but contrary to popular opinion, I think the much-lamented French front-runner’s glacial pace kept it from this nomination, as it should have.
Best Supporting Actor — Armie Hammer for Call Me By Your Name
I’m going to go out on a limb here: I think the more conservative Academy voters (which, let’s be real, is a good-sized chunk) were unaware of Hammer’s perfectly nuanced performance because they didn’t watch CMBYN, in turn either because, more than 10 years after Brokeback Mountain, they are still uncomfortable with gay relationships that don’t end in death, or possibly, because they heard about the age difference between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Hammer), decided it was icky, and that was that. Never mind that if the younger character was female, the age difference would never have been an issue, or that Elio initiates everything. Once a frame has been established, facts bounce off that frame.
Best Supporting Actor — Michael Stuhlbarg for everything
Arguably the most egregious snub on this list, Stuhlbarg had one heck of a great year. His poignant speech at the end of CMBYN destroyed people’s souls, but he also did amazing work in TWO OTHER Best Picture nominees — The Shape of Water and The Post — and was still shut out. Though I know we haven’t seen the last of this utility infielder, this was a bitter pill.
I, Tonya — Best Original Screenplay, Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Production Design
This is an extremely enjoyable and thought-provoking film, well deserving its Best Editing nomination. Its somewhat unusual narrative structure served to emphasize the overarching theme of the relativity of truth so effectively. For instance, when Tonya looks us in the eye and tells us that the skate repair shop put her skate blade back on wrong, she is simultaneously shown drinking and smoking while playing pool at a bar. It got a BAFTA nod for Best Original Screenplay, a circumstance that I hoped would be duplicated Stateside, but in a remarkably well-written year, was not. No one needed to interpret the makeup, hair or mise-en-scène though. I remember the ‘90s, I probably have some scrunchies and acid wash jeans somewhere. This film reproduced everything to the best of my memory, down to the beer in Margot Robbie’s wigs (today’s mousse doesn’t provide anything like the crunchy glaze of turn-of-the-century product).
Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, and an Old Hollywood-style supporting cast were uniformly excellent. It’s always difficult for the filmmakers and rewarding for the audience when you have a known outcome and it’s still interesting and thrilling to watch. In addition, what Tonya’s art team did for the 1990s, Battle’s did for the 1970s. Repeat viewings revealed that the dizzying number of looks, costumes, and sets were both laden with attention to detail, with strict delineation between the worlds of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Maybe the pay gap stuff hit a little too close to home, or it was depressing to see that there’s still a long way to go, baby, but this film was completely ignored by both audiences and the Academy. With only three pictures nominated in the Makeup and Hairstyling category, the exclusion of both Tonya and Battle is even more inexplicable.
Best Supporting Actress — Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip
As I watched Girls Trip, I was reminded of what Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) says to Gloria Lorrison (Lana Turner) in The Bad and the Beautiful, (which recently aired on TCM as part of the festival for which we name this blogathon): “…[W]hen you’re on the screen, no matter who you’re with, what you’re doing, the audience is looking at YOU. That’s star quality… Lorrison quality.” Or in this case, Haddish quality. Scene after scene, despite strong competition from the likes of Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah, I literally could not take my eyes off of her. She’ll be fine because she’s going to be a big star***, but this was a major misstep by the Academy. Is it because her film was a comedy starring women? Bridesmaids cracked that code for the 2012 awards, or so it seemed. Is there some racism in there as well, or was it just released too early in the year, like perhaps Battle of the Sexes, The Florida Project, The Beguiled, etc.? Only Academy voters know for sure.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by myself, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen.
*For instance, how can a film be Best Picture, and not also win Best Director? Just a thought, maybe there should be 5-10 nominees in the Director category, as there is with Best Picture. Yes, the ceremony would be longer, but it would make more sense.
** Gratuitous Wonder Woman clips:
Why did this have to happen
Let’s be real, this is what happens when you get a Taurus and a Virgo together:
*** Tiffany Haddish’s valuable advice to men in her SNL monologue